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Following a competitive tender, Portsmouth City Council has appointed Vale Southern Construction for the £2m expansion of Cliffdale Primary Academy. The school accommodates 196 pupils aged 2-11 years who have complex learning difficulties.

The 41-week project will add two single-storey extensions to the school, providing extra classrooms. An unused swimming pool building will be demolished to make way for one of the extensions. Vale Southern will also be responsible for associated landscaping works, including resurfacing the multi-use games area (MUGA).

Internally, the contractor will fit out the newly extended spaces and refurbish several rooms within the existing school building.

Located in a constrained site, in the heart of a residential area and next to a family centre, a temporary access road will also be created.

“This is a very logistically challenging project,” said Oliver West, Managing Director of Vale Southern. “To create the temporary access, we will need to create a route that runs through a nearby car park used by those visiting, and working at, an NHS clinic. This will require a very robust communications plan to ensure everyone affected is kept informed and that we minimise any disruption for all our neighbours.

He continued: “Having worked in several settings where there are children with special educational needs and disabilities, we understand how distressing noise and disruption can be. This will see us work closely with the school to mitigate the impact of our activity. The programme will be carefully phased, and noise and dust suppression measures put in place.”

Throughout the project, Vale Southern will be seeking opportunities to support the school through educational activities, volunteering and fundraising. Plans include sponsorship, information events, vision panels in the hoardings, and providing measures to enhance wildlife around the pond.

Due to be completed by September 2024, the contract builds on Vale Southern’s extensive experience of delivering construction projects within live educational environments. The team has recently constructed a new inclusion centre within the grounds of Arundel Court Primary Academy to support children in Portsmouth who have difficulties with learning and cognition.


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